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The Relationship Breakdown Roles

divorce grief roles separation Nov 21, 2018

 The Initial Roles

When it comes to grieving a relationship. It is first to understand your initial role.

There is always someone who leaves and always someone who tends to feel more abandoned and potentially feels left behind.

When it comes to the stages of grieving, it is really, important to understand that both parties do go through these stages. However, typically at very different times and in different emotional bands.

The other thing to understand as I walk you through these stages of grief is that there is no set order. We all experience grief differently and in our own time and in fact often not stage by stage, but by groups of stages all at once, that causes our emotional pendulum to go on a wild ride. However, the end goal is that you reach a point of acceptance. From here you will be able to move forward and that's the ideal place to get to.

Tall Poppy Woman is about providing emotional support during this grieving stage so that you can manage it with the right tools and get to the other side with a clear mindset and framework that you can build the rest of your life from.


The One Who Leaves

The one who says and puts up their hand and says, "I'm leaving you," is the person who has a head start. In nearly all cases they have already started the grieving process, withdrawing, coming to terms with the failed relationship long before they say those final words from which there is no coming back.

The Abandoned One

This is the person who says to friends and family they were ’blindsided’, had no idea it was coming. Although on reflection years later will recognise the signs they had been too afraid to question or trigger at the time as they still felt there was hope. The writing was however clearly on the wall.

It is, however, this person, who in the immediate aftermath of separation who is thrown into grief without any preparation and is often the one wherever realistically you are going to feel more to say, "don't leave me," "I'm feeling blindsided". This will often result in one of two immediate reactions anger or complete fear paralysis.

The Blame Game

Inevitably in the days and weeks after the relationship breaks down there comes the ‘Blame Game’. Who is at fault for what and an endless search leading to many sleepless nights for the ‘Why’.

In many cases, it is never entirely one person’s fault. Two made the relationship, set the rules and created the boundaries and every year that passed kept working on the relationship. A relationship, after all, is about two people combining, whether they're combining in a healthy way or an unhealthy way is typically what is going to determine whether a relationship last.


The Communication Breakdown

If you look at all the statistics and studies done on people who go through a breakdown in a relationship, the number one factor is communication. Each party avoiding the other, afraid of confrontation, and walking on eggshells. This can happen over months or years, so gradually that you end up with a flatmate instead of an intimate partner.


There Are Clues

When the communication starts to break down, and with it the relationship, the one who is more aware can also be afraid to open up dialog. A fear of confrontation, fear of anger by the other party or just simply don't even know how to express the sadness that they're actually going through.

There will often be clues found in the post-relationship autopsy. They may have suggested changes like a date night or a weekend away, or perhaps even relationship counseling. There are many women that I have spoken to who tried to proactively save the relationship but never said the actual words to their partner, assuming they knew. After all, how could they not know? I myself sat in the car many times on the verge of tears and my now ex-husband oblivious to my sadness. How could he not tell!

The proactive push by women to save a relationship, unfortunately, has led in many cases to them being called a ‘nag’ or a ‘bitch’. When all they wanted was for their partner to step up to the plate and join in the fight to save the relationship.

It is also common for the person who is frustrated with the relationship to have their own solo moments separate from their partner. A new job, weight loss, a more active social circle of friends, visit to family, work trip and in some cases the affair.

The Trigger

There is always a final trigger, and it is often pulled by the person who has been trying to save the relationship. We are all human after all, far from perfect and only have so much patience and the words ‘It’s over’ are said.

So why after what feels like a herculean effort to save the relationship, is the other partner surprised and left feeling blindsided?

It comes down to a basic fundamental mismatch in communication and in communication styles. The fear of basic conversation prevented real communication ever occurring. How we all hear, listen, feel and love is different, and we all have our own unique language. One partner's seeming obvious attempts are unrecognisable language to their partner. It is a real lost in translation moment.

  • Silence gives me a feeling of calm… I can cut the tension of silence with a knife
  • ‘I am improving me, so why aren’t you?’… ‘Why are they changing so much?’
  • ‘We should try something new’… ‘Isn’t everything fine the way it is’


The Abuser

This discussion cannot happen without recognition of relationships, which are all too common, where there is one party who is the abuser. I often marvel in the guilt trip these abusers put onto their spouses through who have enough courage to walk away. There is a deep-rooted level of insecurity in the abuser in many cases, it is almost as if they justify their behavior in the fear that one day their partner will have the strength to leave them. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

To all of those who have left an abuser, you are brave and strong. There is, however, a lot of guilt created in the abused for letting the relationship rules and boundaries be blurred. To you I say forgive yourself, your life is now yours, and show yourself the compassion you would show to others. It was never you, and you should never feel guilty or at fault.

 - Dominique Bergel-Grant

Tall Poppy Woman


You Are Not Alone

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